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Thameslink: Procurement

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the latest expected timing is of the (a) (i) start and (ii) completion of Stage 1 and (b) the delivery of the new units to the Thameslink franchise for Phase 1. [255998]

Paul Clark: The Thameslink timetable change which comes into effect on 22 March 2009 marks the start of the Key Output One stage of the Thameslink Programme. This stage is due for completion in March 2012.


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The first new Class 377 dual voltage unit was delivered to Southern trains on 30 January 2009. The remaining 22 units will follow over the next few months.

Transport: EC Action

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provisions of EU directives within his Department's responsibilities have not yet been transposed into United Kingdom law; in respect of the provisions of which such directives the UK has been subject to infringement action by the European Commission since January 2005; and what stage has been reached in such actions in each case. [255494]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There are 24 EU directives within my Department's responsibilities that have not yet been transposed into UK law. The stages of infringement proceedings are:

Transport: Snow and Ice

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with train operators about services which did not operate on 2 February 2009; and what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence of those problems. [255908]

Paul Clark: Of the just over 18,000 trains due to have run on 2 February, nearly 9,000 reached their destination on time and another 2,000 ran but arrived late. The remaining 7,000 were cancelled, most of them on routes south of the Thames.

The provision of train services is a matter for operators and I am satisfied that they understand the need to have arrangements in place to deal with exceptional weather. Ministers have not therefore sought to discuss train performance on 2 February with them.

Vehicle Number Plates: Flags

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 613W, on vehicle number plates: flags, when he plans to make an announcement on the way forward. [256130]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government are bringing forward the new legislation to legalise the display of national flags on number plates in GB as soon as possible. It is expected, subject to the outcome of an informal consultation, that the revised regulations will come into force around the end of April 2009.

Wrexham-Bidston Railway Line

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans the Government has for the electrification of the Bidston to Wrexham railway line. [256269]


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Paul Clark [h olding answer 11 February 2009]: A cross-industry working group led by Network Rail is assessing the case for electrifying a wide range of lines. The group is expected to publish its conclusions at the end of March.

If costs can be reduced and funding identified, it would be for Merseytravel to consider whether a Bidston to Wrexham scheme is suitable to promote for major scheme funding via its local transport plan, provided that this is endorsed as a priority as part of the regional funding allocation process.

Prime Minister

Departmental Consultants

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Prime Minister how many expert advisers, excluding special advisers, have been commissioned by his Office since June 2007; and on which topics they have advised. [254741]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 12 January 2009, Official Report , column 53W.

Departmental Internet

Mr. Harper: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish a copy of No. 10 Downing Street’s website accessibility plan. [257216]

The Prime Minister: Information on accessibility is available on the No. 10 website at:

A copy of this web page has been placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Public Appointments

Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister which of the public appointments for which he is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restrictions, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Office keeps in respect of such appointments. [254263]

The Prime Minister: Information on public appointments I make are published on the No. 10 website and announced to Parliament where appropriate. More detailed information about individual appointments is set out in the relevant body's annual report. Vacancies may also be advertised on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website at

The process for making a public appointment, including guidance on political activity and eligibility criteria, follows the Cabinet Office publication “Making and Managing Public Appointments”. For appointments regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointments process also complies with the "Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies". Copies are in the Libraries of the House.


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Energy and Climate Change

Gregory Barker: To ask the Prime Minister what work the No. 10 Policy Directorate (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake on energy and climate-related matters. [255042]

The Prime Minister: The No. 10 Policy Unit covers all Government policy, including energy and climate-related matters.

Forfeiture Committee

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister (1) on how many occasions the Forfeiture Committee has met since 1997; [256561]

(2) whether peerages fall within the terms of reference of the Forfeiture Committee. [256562]

The Prime Minister: Arrangements for the Forfeiture Committee are as set out by the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Sir John Major, on 2 December 1994, Official Report, column 923W

Details of forfeitures are published in the London Gazette. Peerages do not fall within the terms of reference of the Forfeiture Committee.

Israel: Anniversaries

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister to what events held in the United Kingdom to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel he has been invited; what such invitations he has (a) accepted and (b) declined; and if he will make a statement. [254992]

The Prime Minister: It is already a matter of public record. I attended the Embassy of Israel 60(th) Anniversary Reception on 12 May 2008 in London.

Ministerial Appointments

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Prime Minister under what circumstances Ministerial appointments may be made for a fixed-term period at the request of the appointee. [255817]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave my hon. Friend on 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 541W.

Peers: Lobbying

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Prime Minister whether he received representations from (a) Lord Moonie, (b) Lord Taylor of Blackburn, (c) Lord Snape and (d) Lord Truscott in the last seven months. [255236]

The Prime Minister: No.


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Russia

Mr. Hands: To ask the Prime Minister (1) when he last met Russian President Medvedev; [256563]

(2) when he last met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. [256564]

The Prime Minister: I have regular discussions with the Russian leadership, including at G8 and G20 summits.

I have invited President Medvedev to the G20 in London in April.

Written Questions

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister how many parliamentary questions he has not answered since June 2007 on the grounds of disproportionate cost; and if he will make a statement. [254990]

The Prime Minister: The information requested is a matter of public record and can be found in the Official Report.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister how many parliamentary questions for written answer he has transferred to other Ministers since May 2007; and if he will make a statement. [254991]

The Prime Minister: Questions are answered by the responsible Minister. Details of transfers can be found in the daily “Questions Book”, copies of which are available in the Vote Office.

Treasury

Tax Avoidance

8. David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what HM Revenue and Customs’ most recent estimate is of the annual cost to the Exchequer of tax avoidance in the corporate sector; and if he will make a statement. [256289]

Mr. Timms: Due to its nature, it is difficult to be precise about the scale of avoidance. The most recent estimate, published by HMRC last March but relating to the start of the decade, showed corporate tax avoidance to be in the range £2.1 billion to £6.6 billion per year. HMRC continues to close down loopholes as it becomes aware of them.

Banking Industry

9. Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the remuneration packages for senior executives of banks which are in temporary public ownership or which have received recapitalisation funding from the public purse; and if he will make a statement. [256290]

Ian Pearson: For those banks that we recapitalised last October there were conditions imposed in relation to bank lending and restrictions on rewards for senior executives and on payment of dividends.


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17. Lynda Waltho: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on bank lending policies of his recapitalisation of the banks. [256299]

Ian Pearson: The measures that the Government announced on 8 October were to ensure the stability of the financial system and to protect ordinary savers, depositors, businesses and borrowers.

The Government’s recapitalisation scheme has helped to reduce the inter-bank lending rate, and the cost of insuring inter-bank lending through credit default swaps. As a result the price of wholesale funding—the money the banks use to finance lending to their customers—has come down considerably.

As part of their investment, the Government have agreed with the banks supported by the recapitalisation scheme a range of commitments, including on lending.

19. Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on remuneration packages for staff of banks which are in temporary public ownership or which have received recapitalisation funding from the public purse. [256301]

Ian Pearson: UK Financial Investments (UKFI) has been set up to manage the Treasury’s shareholding in recapitalised banks. UKFI has a role in scrutinising banks compliance with the recapitalisation conditions, and also in scrutinising banks remuneration policies—to protect the interests of the taxpayer as a major shareholder.

The Government have rightly been closely involved in decisions on rewards for senior executives—those who made the decisions that brought the banks into difficulty. We have ensured that none of the banks accessing the recapitalisation scheme will award cash bonuses for 2008 to board members.

20. Derek Twigg: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on bank lending policies of his recapitalisation of the banks. [256302]

Ian Pearson: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Lynda Waltho) today (256299).

Global Economic Situation

10. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on measures to reduce the effects of the global economic downturn in EU member states. [256291]

Angela Eagle: The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Treasury Ministers attend regular meetings of EU Ministers, including the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN). These discussions cover a wide range of issues including the co-ordination of measures among EU member states. The European economic recovery plan, as agreed by the December European Council, outlined a range of measures for member states to enact a co-ordinated response to the economic downturn.


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UK Economy

11. Mr. David Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions his Department has had with the International Monetary Fund on the UK’s economic performance. [256292]

Yvette Cooper: The IMF holds bilateral discussions with each of its member countries, usually every year as part of its country surveillance function, under Article IV of the IMF’s articles of agreement. IMF staff last visited London in May 2008 and met with various institutions including HM Treasury to discuss issues relating to the economy. The Government of course continue also to work closely with the IMF and other international partners in responding to the financial crisis.

13. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what forecasts of economic growth he has made for (a) 2009-10 and (b) 2010-11. [256294]

Mr. Timms: The Government’s most recent forecasts were published at the pre-Budget report. We will publish updated forecasts at the time of Budget 2009, as is normal practice. This will include a full assessment of developments and prospects for the world and UK economies, based on all relevant factors.


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